About half of all identity crimes are the result of low-tech methods of identity theft — lost or stolen property. If your purse is stolen at the store, you know about it, but you might not know about somebody who steals your mail from your mailbox or swipes packages off your porch and then uses your personal information gleaned from those to commit an identity crime. As of December 16, 2019, mail theft is no longer just a federal offense: stealing a package from someone’s porch is now a punishable crime under Michigan law. First-time mail thieves can face fines and up to a year in jail — repeat offenders can face up to five years in prison
There are a number of proactive steps you can take to protect yourself. The first is to be cautious with your mail:
Another way to reduce your risk of identity theft from stolen mail is to opt-out of credit offers that arrive in your USPS mailbox. A thief who steals your mail can use the application to apply for credit in your name at his or her address.
To stop credit card offers, you can either go online or call 888-567-8688. You will need to provide your Social Security number to eliminate these offers, but since you are initiating the contact using information from a reliable source, it is safe.
The United States Postal Service offers a free service — Informed Delivery — that allows you to digitally preview your letter-sized mail daily and manage packages scheduled to arrive soon. You will have to create an online account and verify your identity, but then you can receive and view daily notices on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. You can track packages, leave delivery instructions, and reschedule delivery.
If you have a general consumer complaint, you may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection team:Consumer Protection Division